Public stakeholders event in Riga
The New Pact for Europe debate in Latvia under the title 'Stagnation, gradual progress or a leap forward - which scenario for the EU is the most likely?' was organized by Riga-based policy research centre Providus on 13 April, 2015.
Panelists included the head of European Affairs Office of the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ilze Rūse, political columnist Pauls Raudseps, and Filips Lastovskis, EU affairs journalist (delfi.lv). The debate was also attended by more than 30 participants representing the Latvian NGOs, academic sector, governmet and business sector. The Latvian EU experts evaluated the New Pact for Europe proposal.
Participants in the debate agreed that it is now time to discuss the state of the EU as well as the further steps that need to be taken. The New Pact for Europe was in general perceived as a very relevant and insightful analysis of the challenges that the EU is facing today.
The project, however, was also critisized for its 'naïve' and 'neo-functionalist' approach. As Filips Lastovskis noted, today's EU lacks democratic legitimacy in the first place, and as long as European issues are not even close to being dinner-table talk for its citizens, it is useless to discuss any other reforms. EU internal issues did not really raise a lot of questions in the audience, whereas a plea for a more global EU and an ideological vision of the union was prominent. Some participants suggested there was a need for 'a European dream'.
Although Latvian public and decision makers are very much in favor of the Energy Union, participants of the event doubted whether this has the potential to become a grand uniting project. Security and defence community or the digital single market were seen as much more realistic and needed steps towards further integration.